Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a condition suffered by far too many people. It is estimated that 75-80 percent of Americans have this health issue, which poses problems in the mouth and in the entire body.
In our office, we say that periodontal health is the foundation for a patient’s overall health. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that lie between the teeth and gums, where tartar and plaque build up. This bacterium creates an infectious state with which the body then goes to war. Left untreated, the periodontal disease only worsens. This dental condition is now linked directly to heart disease and other grave health conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and dementia, to name a few.
Causes of periodontal disease include factors such as genetics, medications, tobacco use, and grinding or clenching of teeth. However, we often see a general lack of awareness that leads a patient into this condition. Because periodontal disease is so prevalent, people must realize the necessity for daily brushing AND flossing. They receive professional dental examinations at least twice a year.
By receiving regular check-ups, you have the ability to catch periodontal disease in its early stage, known as gingivitis. Your dentist can determine if you have gum disease. Some of the symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Swollen, red, or bleeding gums
- Sensitivity of a tooth or teeth due to receding gums
- Loosening of teeth
- Tooth loss
- Tooth abscess
Periodontal disease can and should be treated as soon as possible. The first step may be treatment provided by a dental hygienist or dentist. For more advanced cases, medication in the form of antibiotics or an oral rinse may be prescribed. Worst cases will require surgical intervention to reverse damage caused by periodontal disease.
Your oral health is directly linked to your general health. Maintain regular check-ups with your dentist to avoid periodontal disease, and you really can enjoy a longer and healthier life.